Biden’s wishlist speech: liberal, partisan and most importantly going nowhere
President Biden wasted no time touting his accomplishments and promising to rebuild manufacturing and the middle class — a predictably long list that few delivering the State of the Union have been able to escape.
And while cordial with President Kevin McCarthy, who is now ceding real power, Biden drew sharp partisan lines in calling for a minimum tax on billionaires — who, like so many others in the speech, don’t. has no chance of passing the House Republican – and demanding action on the debt ceiling rather than holding the economy “hostage.”
It was a speech delivered by Biden standards, even though he quoted his father for the umpteenth time, and of course he swore to protect Medicare and Social Security and bragged about having “broken the grip of Covid”.
But he didn’t have a truly emotional moment until he introduced the parents of Tire Nichols – ‘no words to describe the heartache and grief of losing a child’ – who was fatally beaten by five police officers Memphis blacks. Yet it was also a reminder that he had failed to reform the police — and McCarthy will ensure that Biden’s renewed call for an assault weapons ban goes nowhere.
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Biden may have approached last night’s television audience with the wind at his back. He passed trillions of dollars in new, largely bipartisan legislation, and the non-existent red wave left his party in control of the Senate.
But three developments have thrown it off course.
One is the Chinese spy balloon, which has pretty much let the president look weak or not, and the Pentagon has had to backtrack on its claims of three previous incursions under Donald Trump’s watch. These spy devices were only detected after the fact.
The second is the mess of classified documents, which resulted in a special counsel investigation. Even Biden’s allies say he botched it all up, in part by withholding information, and an angry press corps turned on him.
But the bigger factor is dwindling support for another Biden run. Some 58% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents want a candidate other than president, according to a Washington Post/ABC poll.
Trump’s numbers with the GOP aren’t much better, but when nearly six in 10 members of your own party want you out — follow-up interviews have shown age issues weigh heavily — it dampens the impact of any state in the Union. And that was discussed a lot in the pre-game media chatter.
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The president has drawn a line in the sand by declaring “if Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it” – but the Democratic Senate will not pass it, and the real battle is in the United States. United.
Despite all the advanced experts on how the Chinese spy balloon would change the narrative, that wasn’t really the case. Biden only mentioned it indirectly.
After saying he wanted “competition, not conflict” with Beijing, the president said:
“But make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we have.”
Yet it was also a reminder that he had failed to reform the police — and McCarthy will ensure that Biden’s renewed call for an assault weapons ban goes nowhere.
He was clearly determined to avoid escalating tensions, without even saying the word balloon.
The speech also included big ideas — a cancer “moonshot” — and little things, such as bank overdraft fees and airline surcharges.
Biden concluded by talking about January 6 and the big lie, denounced the “heinous” attack on Paul Pelosi, who was in the audience, and said that there is “no place for political violence in America “.
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Democrats loved the hour-plus long speech, Republicans not so much, but at McCarthy’s urging, they generally did well.
Although Biden was on his game, I don’t think he changed his mind much. His message boiled down to “all is well, and we are going to make it even better”. It was both an upbeat pep talk and the opening salvo of his re-election campaign.
And, like most State of the Union addresses, they will be largely forgotten within 48 hours.